Thursday, September 17, 2009

Romania to list 15-20 pct of new energy holdings

BUCHAREST, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Romania plans to list stakes worth 15-20 percent each in the two major energy companies it wants to create as part of an energy sector overhaul, Deputy Economy Minister Tudor Serban said on Wednesday.

The reform envisages integrating largely inefficient assets into two holdings which should become fully operational by the second half of 2010. The ministry plans to prepare a law setting up the holdings by October.

Officials say the overhaul, which critics say lacks transparency and credible details, should help lower energy costs and raise competitiveness with regional power giants.

"We intend to list stakes, but we won't list more than 15-20 percent," Serban told an energy seminar. He did not offer a potential timing for the listings.

Serban said the potential listings also involve Fondul Proprietatea, a state-owned investment fund set up to compensate Romanians whose properties were seized under communism.

With assets worth roughly 3.5 billion euros and bourse listing plans for 2010, Fondul Proprietatea holds 5-20 percent stakes in most state-owned assets, including energy firms.
Serban said he hoped to start next week talks with the fund about potentially lowering the stakes it would own in the two energy holdings.

"To own 20 percent is huge," Serban said. "Even 5 percent is an enormous lot. For the rest we must have banks, industry investors to give them (the holdings) ... strength."

According to plans, one company, with a market share of 45 percent, will include Romania's two nuclear reactors, as well as lignite-fired power holdings and hydro-power plants.

The second will be made of hard coal and other hydroelectric plants, as well as parts of state-owned gas producer Romgaz. Its market share will stand at 40 percent.

The listings could draw interest and much-needed funds from regional power firms like Czech CEZ, Germany's E.ON or Italy's Enel, which own distribution units and have shown interest in buying production assets.

Meanwhile, Serban said the economy ministry has appointed Mihai David and Constantin Balasoiu, the heads of hydro-power firm Hidroelectrica and lignite-fired energy holding Craiova, as coordinators for the two new companies.

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